China Unveils Its First and Unnamed Moon Rover
Chinese scientists described the country's first moon rover on Wednesday and invited the global public to come up with a name for it.
Zhao Xiaojin, director of the aerospace department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, depicted the lunar rover an orbiter adaptable to harsh environments; a highly efficient and integrated robot; and a high altitude "patrolman" carrying the dreams of Asia.
The Chang'e-3 mission to moon, named after a Chinese lunar goddess, will take place in December, when a Chinese spacecraft will soft-land on a celestial body for the first time.
The rover has two wings, stands on six wheels, weighs 140 kg and will be powered by solar energy.
"When it arrives in lunar orbit on board a lander, the rover will choose the best landing site and gently touch down the moon's surface, using optical and microwave sensors to avoid rocks and craters," Zhao said.
The rover will "select the best route, use minimal fuel and make the smallest possible error" during landing and is capable of hovering to steer clear of obstacles, he said.
Domestic and overseas compatriots can submit their proposed names for the rover through the Internet and the official name will be announced in November after an online poll on the selected proposals.
Li Benzheng, deputy chief designer of China's lunar probe program, said the name of the rover should express the wishes of Chinese at home and abroad, feature the modern and national traits to inspire people.
Li noted the rover will recognize obstacles on the moon's surface, and plot a path of least resistance by a combination of onboard navigation systems and remote control from the command center.
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A visitor takes photos of a 1: 8 scale model of Chang'e 3 moon rover on September 25, 2013. A public naming campaign was launched for the moon rover on the same day in Beijing which will be lunched by the year end. [Photo: China News Service/ Sun Zifa]